Causes of Cervicalgia
Usually, cervicalgia is not a serious condition. However, it is uncomfortable and has to be addressed. The condition has a variety of causes. Poor posture, especially for an extended period of time, is one cause. For example, many patients spend a long time sitting at a desk with improper posture. Injuries involving a harsh neck movement, such as whiplash, are another cause. Furthermore, clenching the neck and shoulder muscles leads to strain and stress on the neck. Pushing the shoulders forward causes stress. Rounded shoulders are common for cycling. Osteoporosis and arthritis, which are examples of bone conditions, also contribute. Patients who are older are more susceptible to cervicalgia. Spinal diseases, conditions, or infections, such as meningitis, can also cause cervicalgia. Some types of sports may cause kyphosis, which affects posture and strains the neck, and cervicalgia can also result from kyphosis.1
What Is Cervicalgia?
Cervicalgia only occurs in the neck, and patients are not diagnosed with this condition when the injury is found in the arms or lower back. For example, movements that put gradual and sudden pressure on the neck can lead to strain and discomfort. The neck is very flexible, but this flexibility leaves it vulnerable to damage. Even with proper posture, the neck is always under stress from supporting the heavy head and allowing good range-of-motion. The neck, or cervical spine, is a very important part of the body. Symptoms of cervicalgia are mostly found in the neck, including stiffness, spasms, and impaired movement. There can also be tenderness in the shoulders, cervicalgia headache, dizziness, and nausea. In most cases, the cervicalgia only causes mild discomfort. However, the pain severity will vary based on the injury. Pain can be felt as sharp and stabbing or dull but persistent.2
ICD 10 and Diagnosis
Cervicalgia is a general term. ICD 10 is the system most medical professionals use to bill insurance, and there is no direct cause of cervicalgia ICD 10. Similarly, the codes for low back pain ICD 10 and other forms of back pain ICD 10 have to be more specifically defined. Based on ICD 10, cervicalgia is either chronic or acute. Even so, getting cervicalgia diagnosed by a healthcare professional can take more time. There are some exceptions to this, including when a disc disorder of the spine has been diagnosed as the cause. Additionally, other than figuring out billing, finding the specific cause of cervicalgia is important for the patient’s treatment. Patients have to tell their healthcare provider about all of their symptoms, and even small symptoms should be mentioned. It is important to be accurate so that the doctor can spot red flag symptoms.3
The first step in treatment is to take a break from strenuous activity for a few days. Meanwhile, patients might find that a cold pack eases their pain and inflammation. Diabetic patients should limit their use of ice. Similarly, a heat pack or a warm shower can be used. Over-the-counter pain medications can also provide relief, including Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve. After warming the injured area with a heat pack, stretching the neck can be very beneficial. There are several different types of stretches that help. Even though rest is important, patients should also try to get up and move every half hour. This is because remaining in one position for too long can also cause pain, and poor posture is particularly damaging. There are many alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture, that can help. Sometimes, alternative treatment options are the only solution necessary.4
It is easy to develop a stiff neck from a long commute or a stressful desk job. Fortunately, there are exercises that can combat cervicalgia pain. Patients who have had a long day might try the upper trapezius stretch, levator stretch, cervical retraction, doorway pec stretch, and external rotation with a TheraBand. The exercises should not cause pain, though they can leave the patient feeling stretched and tired.5 Patients should regularly try some simple neck stretches and head turns, especially if they have been in a static position for a while. Exercises and stretches can be done with or without resistant exercise bands. Good posture is also key, and patients should be mindful of their position when they are sitting, standing, and lying down. Unfortunately, time spent with poor posture and stiffness adds up. Sometimes, patients need outside help to ease their cervicalgia pain.6
Chiropractors provide natural pain relief for cervicalgia, but that is not all that they can do. In some cases, the chiropractor will have to be gentler with the patient. Those who dislike the sound and feeling of “cracking” will want a gentler manipulation. Patients have to make note of all of their symptoms so that the chiropractor’s diagnosis is accurate. Chiropractic care can help with many causes of neck pain. The chiropractor will employ cervical mobilization, cervical manual traction, and cervical “drop” techniques. The adjustments are performed while the patient is lying on a special table, and the table is outfitted with additional tools for the chiropractor to work with. Outside of the office, the chiropractor will recommend exercises for the patient to relieve their cervicalgia symptoms at home. Often, chiropractors to work with doctors and physical therapists, but the patient can consult their doctor about chiropractic care.7
A licensed practitioner of massage can also provide relief for the patient. Massage therapy is good for sore muscles, and massage promotes blood flow. Patients will experience relaxation from massage, and this can help to ease the stiffness in muscles and the cervicalgia. Massage therapists often work complementary to medical treatment and chiropractic care.8 Trigger point massage is often used for neck pain, and Swedish massage is another method that is employed. Swedish massage is the most common technique. Other forms of massage that the therapist might use include shiatsu and deep tissue massage. Swedish massage and deep tissue massage can be performed together. The aim of deep tissue massage is to release knots and scar tissue that could be the cause of cervicalgia. Self-massage at home might also provide some relief, though patients should not try any difficult techniques.9
4, 6, 8 https://www.healthline.com/health/cervicalgia
Find out more about how chiropractic care helps after whiplash.